E.A. Sports Today

Harrell out at White Plains

Coach no longer with the Wildcats’ golf, junior high girls basketball teams after ring impasse

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Marcus Harrell, the architect of the only two state championships White Plains has ever won, has been removed from his coaching positions at the school over an impasse involving championship rings.

White Plains principal Andy Ward confirmed the change, but declined to comment on the specific details leading to it. Sources familiar with the situation cited the impasse over the number of championship rings to be distributed to the girls golf team.

Administrators wanted to award rings to the four players on the state championship team — Layne Dyar, Morgan Prickett, Hanna Dyar and Lexee Cunningham — but Harrell wanted to reward all nine girls in the program, citing their contribution to the overall effort.

Harrell told his team he would no longer be its coach Thursday afternoon. He also coached the junior high girls basketball team. He will remain in his teaching position at the school.

“He wanted something to happen and he was not allowed for that to happen,” Ward said. “He told us last week if it wasn’t going to happen he was going to quit. My exact words to him was don’t say anything in anger, go home and think about it. He came back and made up his mind.

“He just would not come to terms with the fact he wasn’t going to be allowed to do something and because of that he just hung it up. It’s a really unfortunate situation. He is an outstanding coach.”

Harrell, an outstanding amateur player who played collegiately at Jacksonville State and roomed with 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, got the job at White Plains in 2012. He was a coach who demanded excellence, worked with the players on their games and practiced them with championships in mind.

His girls team brought the school an emotional first-ever state championship in 2015 at Magnolia Grove and repeated by an overwhelming margin last month at Hampton Cove. The boys team won the last two Calhoun County championships and the girls won their first this spring.

Layne Dyar was the county girls medalist each of the last two years. Layton Bussey, the boys team’s lone senior, was the 2016 county boys medalist and shared medalist honors at the state tournament.

“I was told that only four starters on the girls golf team would be receiving state champions rings, not the whole team,” Harrell said. “I ws told on Tuesday that because I refused to agree with that decision I had been replaced as the boys and girls golf coach and as junior high basketball coach.

“These kids mean the world to me and have, as a team, worked so hard this year; it was a phenomenal year. I just felt it was the right thing to do, to stand up for those girls — the whole team deserved rings.”

Boys basketball coach Chris Randall has been named the new golf coach; he’s expected to meet with the team this weekend. Matt Ford will be the new junior high girls basketball coach; he will take them to a team camp next week.

The girls golf team returns two starters next season and the boys team returns four. Harrell’s junior high basketball teams had won one Calhoun County Tournament and enjoyed two undefeated regular seasons.

Since the news broke of Harrell’s ouster, social media has been abuzz with support for the coach.

“He’s been great for the kids on our team,” Dan Griffin, whose son Nathan, a sophomore, played No. 2 on the boys team this season told East Alabama Sports Today. “We are shocked and saddened by the events that have taken place. There are some upset parents that want some answers as to why this has happened.”

On the cover: Former White Plains golf coach Marcus Harrell (R) walks during senior medalist Layne Dyar during this year’s Calhoun County Tournament at Pine Hill CC. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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